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Playing Advice | The Third Holes on The Bend, The Bay, and The Bog

Willowbend’s trio of third holes are defined by one common trait: they all demand accuracy off the tee. Don’t be fooled by their length, these holes can produce big numbers on a scorecard if golfers get too aggressive. Fortunately, Mike Vidal—Willowbend’s Assistant General Manager—and Michael Carroll—the Director of Golf—share their advice on how to best navigate Willowbend’s short (but demanding) par fours.


The third hole on The Bend has changed significantly in the past year (to learn more, click here), which means the best strategy to adopt has changed, too. In particular, the fairway on this hole has been extended to the left of the big beech tree, and the tree’s canopy has been raised. That means golfers have two areas that can offer playable angles to the green—the right of the tree (as was always the case) and now to the left. “The tree won’t be an issue if you’re left,” says Vidal, but he’s quick to point out that players will want to choose a club for the tee shot that will leave them with an approach of about 100 or 110 yards.

If you’re playing The Bend’s forward tees, the redesign of the third hole now makes it easier to land your tee shot on the right side of the fairway, which provides a slightly easier angle into the green. Just avoid the fairway bunker that was repositioned from left to right. According to Carroll: “Finding the sweet spot between the relocated fairway bunker and the end of the fairway requires a shot that doesn’t travel more than 160 yards.”


Not unlike the third hole on The Bend, number three on The Bay is a short par four that places a premium on accuracy off of the tee. In other words, don’t make the mistake of pulling the driver from your bag—that’s likely to put you in one of the last two fairway bunkers or possibly in the rough farther to the right with a blind shot to an elevated green. “Leave yourself with a 100-yard shot for your approach,” Vidal advises. “And when you hit your approach shot, aim for the left side of the green. If you miss to the right your ball will bounce farther to the right down toward the water.”

Golfers playing from the forward tees can likely hit tee shots with their driver, but they’ll need their shots to land in line with the largest fairway bunker on the course—one that’s visible just to the right of the green. “It’s a target that steers players away from the three fairway bunkers on the left,” Carroll explains, “and hopefully the two on the right that are just off the fairway.” Once they’re ready to hit their approach shots to the green, those forward-tee players have the option of using the wide mouth off the green to hit low shots that chase up the false front. “A low running shot will have some success here,” adds Carroll, “given that the green complex slopes from back to front and can act as a backstop to prevent balls from going too long.”


Like the other third holes at Willowbend, number three on The Bog requires accuracy off the tee, but most golfers will sense that while they’re standing on the tee due to the hole’s narrow, tree-lined fairway. “Don’t try to bite off the whole thing right away,” Vidal advises. “A fairway finder is necessary off of this tee. You don’t want to be left or right on this hole—the ball ends up either way below or above your feet in really thick rough or, worse yet, you’re in the woods.”

Carroll echoes that advice, but he encourages forward-tee players to tee off with their drivers since those golfers aren’t likely to hit it far enough to be in troublesome spots, even if they miss it to the left or the right. “There’s a premium on accuracy for your approach into this green,” he says. “The green will accept a running shot, but if you’re going to hit a low approach, you need to be coming in from the left side of the fairway.”

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